The project is to track kuaka (common diving petrels) that breed on Mana Island, to see where they feed both when caring for their chicks (October), and during the non-breeding season (December to August).
There are at least 50 pairs currently nesting on Mana Island, and about 20 pairs are monitored every year near the southern end of the island. This research project is being undertaken by Dr Colin Miskelly (Curator Vertebrates, Te Papa) and Dr Charles-Andre Bost (senior researcher at CNRS, Chize, France). Colin has been monitoring kuaka on Mana Island annually since 1999, and both Charly and Colin tracked the movements of the same species on the French-administered Kerguelen Islands (southern Indian Ocean) in 2015.
Kuaka on Mana Island are caring for their single chicks during October. The chick is left in the burrow during the daytime, with both parents returning every night to feed their chick. We will be removing adults from known burrows at night after they have fed their chick, and attaching a small GPS tag to their back feathers using adhesive tape, to record where in Cook Strait they are feeding. The five GPS loggers will be attached to birds from different pairs/burrows, and removed 2-3 days later to down-load information on where the birds have been. If time permits, the GPS tags may be re-charged and deployed on additional birds.
During the week-long stay on the island, we will also attach small GLS loggers to the legs of 10 different breeding adults. These tiny loggers can gather approximate location data for more than a year, and will be removed during the 2018 breeding season, to see where the birds go during the non-breeding season
Charly and Colin hope to be on Mana Island 20-26 October, and will have room for 1 or 2 assistants if any Ngāti Toa rangatahi are interested in helping with the project. Much of the work will be at night, and there will be opportunities to explore the island and assist with other conservation projects during the day.
Participants will need to provide their own bedding (sleeping bag or blankets), toiletries, head-lamp or torch, drink bottle, strong footware, and clothing suitable for working in cold and wet conditions, plus be prepared for hot sunny days. All food will be provided.